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Key Underdogs for Playoff Teams Part I

Gary McCullough | AP Photo

With the regular season smoke about to clear, the playoff picture is starting to become clearer by the day. However, the Eastern and Western Conference playoff races are two different stories with the former having three or four teams outside the 8th spot looking in and the latter with three teams battling for the final two playoff spots. On that note, we put our focus on the bottom four playoff teams from both sides of the map and identified their respective “x-factors” had the postseason started today. We start with the East:

Eastern Conference:

5th seed – Washington Wizards, Paul Pierce

First things first, the Wizards are likely to face a Chicago Bulls team in the opening round which boasts of highly productive players like Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, and Nikola Mirotic. The Wizards will definitely have their hands full if they do end up playing the Bulls, which is seeming more and more likely every day, the importance of forward Paul Pierce will be at an all time high if this team wants to succeed. Other than Butler, the Bulls don’t have many wing defenders, so Pierce will have to get his offense going. We know what John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the other starters can do offensively, the the floor spacing ability and leadership of Paul Pierce is one that no one else on the Wizards’ team has. Pierce has been relatively on and off of late, scoring in double digits for four straight games before putting up four single-digit duds immediately after. This is John Wall’s team, but Pierce is a key part to the Wizards’ success.

Click “Next” to see the key player for the sixth seed in the East

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